Half a million children aged 16 and 17 have still not had jab

Almost half a million children aged 16 and 17 are still unvaccinated against Covid-19 more than four months after the Government promised they would all get the jab by the start of the school year, official data reveal.

Labour has called for a push to ban anti-vaxx campaigners from outside schools amid fears they may be discouraging parents and pupils from getting the vaccine.

Government data suggest that in England, 879,813 people in the 16-17 age bracket have had at least one jab – leaving 492,352, or 36 per cent of that group, without a single dose.

During the summer holidays, Sajid Javid set 23 August as the deadline for all those aged 16 and 17 to be offered a vaccine so they would be protected against coronavirus by the beginning of the autumn term.

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A total of 400,000 days of in-person learning were lost in further education last term as a result of Covid, according to Labour. Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan said: “Vaccines are our greatest defence against Covid, but the Government has shown no sense of urgency in getting this protection out to young people.

“These students are a crucial stage in their education, which can determine the direction they take in their adult lives. Ministers must now show some urgency in getting them vaccinated, ensuring they have access to tests and prioritising keeping all students learning in class this term. The Conservatives’ chaotic, last-minute approach is damaging student’s education, and this cannot go on.”

The party is calling for all pupils and school staff to have guaranteed access to testing so they do not have to take unnecessary time out, better ventilation, and a publicity campaign aimed at communicating the benefits of vaccination for teenagers.

Labour is also proposing “exclusion zones” which would stop anti-vaxxers targeting schools.

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